I slept through the whole thing. When I woke up and rolled over to look at Nancy, she wasn’t there.
She wasn’t in the bathroom brushing her teeth. She wasn’t downstairs reading the paper. Nancy’s pocketbook was on the hall table. Her car was in the driveway. Nancy hadn’t made coffee, she hadn’t made toast. She was just plain gone.
Naturally, I assumed my wife had been abducted by aliens—luminous, bug-eyed creatures from a planet far beyond our own solar system. I imagined a group of them, intent on experiencing sexual intercourse our way, landing their spacecraft in the backyard, using mind control to make Nancy hop out of bed, walk outside, and join them next to their shiny spaceship.
I pictured Nancy in her nightgown, looking, one by one, into what passed for the aliens’ faces, noting, in her analytical way, the slight difference in her visitors’ features. Perhaps their leader grasped Nancy’s hand in his smooth, green paw, sent her a telepathic message to stay normal, and led her onto the spaceship. His colleagues may have trooped on board behind them, poking each other and mind-texting: Oh, boy, we did it! Let’s go! I can’t wait to see her fur!
I stepped onto the porch and looked out at our small rectangle of grass, expecting to see a circle burned into it by their craft. Nothing.
I concluded that it had been a stealthy group, a silent, focused crew, careful to leave no evidence of their mischief. They’d come, mesmerized my wife, and taken her back to their distant homeland, a cold and foggy planet devoid of vegetation. A planet with enormous shining towers, deep underground caves, strange rituals, and noiseless communication.
I briefly worried that Nancy would be chilly up there without a sweater or a warm jacket. Then I thought about the little men—if you could call them that—abusing my poor wife. Poking their miniature peckers—oh, gosh, what if they had really big peckers?—into Nancy’s you-know-what. Good God, what if they didn’t have actual peckers, but used special probes made of shiny metal alloys? I shuddered as I pictured a terrified Nancy being violated by a gang of alien sex maniacs with telescoping, vibrating wands.
I had another awful thought: Jesus, what if she gets knocked up? Those little creatures, ignorant of human reproduction, of spermicides, condoms and the like, might get Nancy pregnant. Or, maybe that’s why they’d snatched her! I’d heard about such things, how the aliens would squirt their intergalactic love juice into our women and then return them to earth. A few weeks later—the fertilized eggs grew quickly—the women would give birth to perfectly human-looking babies. But of course the children wouldn’t really be human, and would spend their lives doing the long-distance bidding of an alien civilization. I’d read articles in various journals, The Examiner, The National Enquirer, etc., revealing that Kanye West, Bette Midler, Julian Assange, and even Oprah were the secret spawn of inter-species couplings.
I made coffee. My hands shook as I filled my cup. I wondered what to do next. Should I call the police? Nancy’s sister? The National Enquirer? I drank more coffee.
Rinsing my cup, setting it on the edge of the sink, I heard a rustling at the back door and turned to look. The door flew open and there was Nancy! Sort of. The woman standing in the doorway looked almost like Nancy, but she was wearing a Green Bay Packers jersey with the number 12 on it, yellow sweatpants, and flip-flops. The Nancy I knew had no interest in professional football, wouldn’t know Aaron Rodgers, the Packers quarterback, from a hole in the ground, and didn’t own flip-flops. She hated flip-flops.
The dark hair, slightly tangled, was Nancy’s all right, but shinier. They were Nancy’s blue eyes, too, but brighter, larger. The woman’s cheekbones were as prominent as Nancy’s, but didn’t they sit higher on her face? She smiled. Nancy’s smile, but wider, revealing glowing white teeth. The morning light bounced off her toothy grin. I sensed, rather than heard, a slight electrical hum.
“Hi,” she said.
“Where the hell have you been?”
Her voice had changed. Throaty, with a slight foreign accent, though I couldn’t quite place it. Swedish? Croatian? Nancy walked to the kitchen table and sank into a chair.
“Whew,” she said, “it sure feels good to sit down.”
“Nancy, really, where were you? I’ve been worried sick.”
“Chill out, Dagwood.” She’d never called me that before. My name is Douglas.
“What’s with the football jersey?” I asked.
She stood and, suddenly reinvigorated, pumped a fist in the air. “Go, Packers!”
Nancy swiveled her hips and arms side to side, shuffled her feet back and forth. Her flip-flops slapped against the kitchen tiles. She shook imaginary pom-poms in my face while she chanted,“Packers, Packers, on the attack! Green Bay, Green Bay, push ‘em way back!”
What the hell? My wife, or someone closely resembling her, was home, and she’d become a football fanatic.
“Nancy, for God’s sake, what’s going on? Since when did you care about football?”
“Don’t get your panties in a twist, Dougie, I’ve always loved the game.”
“You have?” I said weakly.
“Dilbert, I’m beginning to think you’re losing more than your hair!” She laughed. A deep, booming laugh that rattled our crockery.
My relief at Nancy’s safe return had turned to alarm. “Nancy, maybe we should call Dr. Coleman, have him check you out, see if you’re okay.”
“Dr. Coleman? On a Sunday? Don’t be a dope.” Nancy glanced at the clock. “Oh, shit,” she said, “look at the time. I’m going to be late for the game.”
“You’re going to the game?”
“You think I’d miss the biggest game of the year?”
“But, how…..how’d you get a ticket?” Tickets for Packers games were sold out months, years in advance. You had to know somebody who knew somebody or pay a fortune for a ticket.
“Don’t ask, don’t tell,” said Nancy. She slid a hand inside her sweatpants, fumbled around in her crotch, and extracted a green and yellow ticket. She held it aloft, cackling triumphantly. “Second row, fifty-yard line!” Who was this person?
“Nancy, what’s happened to you?”
At this, Nancy stopped laughing. She looked me in the eye and said, “Dougster, there is the known and there is the unknown. The spoken and the unspoken. The secret and the shared. You get what I’m saying, don’t you?”
I didn’t, but something about the intensity of her gaze and that weird accent—now I caught a hint of something Germanic—made me nod my head like a dummy.
Todd McKie is an artist and writer, stumbling between canvas and keyboard. His stories have appeared in PANK, Fiction Southeast, Pithead Chapel, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, and elsewhere. Todd lives in Boston.